Category Archives: advent

Word of God: December 7th

the-word-of-god

Word of God

John 1:1-3 – “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”

Jesus, Word of God, is one of the more complicated names of Jesus to express and yet, it is one of the most significant. There is deep theological “stuff” packed in this name, and I have struggled with the appropriate “words” to even begin to give this a smidgen of the glory and honor it deserves. And I have failed and fallen terribly short…

This is what I do know…

  • Jesus is God’s Word fully communicated to us. In the past, God spoke and revealed Himself and His Will through prophets, but in Jesus, we have the full revelation of God available to all who are willing to listen.

  • Jesus is God’s creative Word. He spoke everything into existence. I love the picture C. S. Lewis paints of the lion Aslan singing Narnia into creation. This is a beautiful depiction of Creation by and through the Word…Jesus…God Himself.

  • Jesus is God’s final Word. Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies that point to Him. These prophesies both set in motion and complete God’s redemptive plan for His children. Nothing…not a thing more needs to be added or changed for people to have a relationship with God. Nothing…not a thing… in the history of creation can or will ever change what God did through Jesus, the Word, on the cross. “It is finished.” John 19:30

Jesus is the Word of God made available to all, young and old, educated and uneducated, every race, and every language.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

 

Father, quiet my heart and open my soul to listen to you today. Thank you for sending us Your Word, Jesus, through whom we can learn more about You. You have not hidden Him in the pages of history, but You have perfectly revealed Him to us in all aspects. Amen.

Bread of Life – December 6th

bread-of-life

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Jesus satisfies…

He satisfies our every longing.

He satisfies our every desire…with Himself.

When Jesus referred to Himself as the “bread of heaven” or the “bread of life,” the people around Him would have had a very rich understanding of the implications. Bread was an essential part of the Middle Eastern diet. Throughout Scripture, bread has been an important part of worship in both the tabernacle and the temple. Every Sabbath the table of showbread in the holy of holies was set. There was also great significance regarding the manna God so beautifully supplied the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. The manna met the deep physical need of His children.

In referring to Himself as the bread of life, Jesus was going far beyond manna and showbread. The manna of Moses’ time was temporary. It is not random that Jesus declared Himself to be the bread of life the morning after He fed the multitude of five thousand with the young boy’s five barley loaves and two fish. (John 6: 1-14) He met their  physical need of hunger, and then He offered Himself as the One to meet their deep, unmet heart-hunger.

What Jesus offered was eternal. He offered Himself to everyone who would believe in Him. As He does today…

Just as bread satisfied a physical hunger, Jesus satisfies our spiritual and emotional hunger. Until that longing is satisfied in Him, it drives us to fill our lives with the empty and the temporal things that only make us crave more.

Bread of Heaven, only You meet my every need. Teach me to hunger only for You. May You be my heart’s greatest desire. Amen.

The Good Shepherd

 

good-shepherd

The Good Shepherd

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11

 

I recently heard a sermon about the Good Shepherd, and I was struck by the distinction made between a hired shepherd and a shepherd who cared for his own sheep.

Both look upon their sheep as companions and income. They care for the physical needs of their sheep, feeding them, tending their wounds, and protecting them from themselves and predators. Shepherds also know their sheep. They know their peculiar little personalities and their disposition to wander. Shepherds know they must lead their absentminded little creatures. Sheep need strong shepherds who will remain close and watchful.

 

The great difference between a hired shepherd and the “good” shepherd  who owns his flock is the issue of sacrifice. What is a hired shepherd willing to sacrifice for the life of one sheep? When danger comes, will he run to save his life leaving his sheep unprotected?

A good shepherd lays down His own life for His sheep. When danger comes, the good shepherd runs to the threat and attacks it head-on. Each lamb’s life  is precious.

We have a Good Shepherd who loves us with a powerful, protective love. Our Shepherd is committed to us, caring for us, leading us and  loving us to the point of laying down His own life for us. He chose death in order to keep us with Him…forever.

Jesus, thank you.

Thank you for taking such tender care of us. Thank you for tending to our battered hearts and protecting us. Being part of your flock is the sweetest privilege. Your Word tells us that Your sheep know Your voice. Your voice, as our  Good Shepherd, keeps us close and we know we are never alone. Amen.

 

Spend some time pouring over the 23rd Psalm today. The Lord is my shepherd…

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing – Advent in Song

hark-the-herald-angels-sing

Music is a powerful tool in our worship, and Christmas carols add great meaning to our worship during Advent. On this day of worship, be musically reminded that Jesus, the “newborn King,” is “Prince of Peace,” “Son of Righteousness,” “Everlasting Lord,” “Incarnate Deity,” and, best of all, “Emmanuel” — “God with us.” Through this  hymn’s many rewritings and  regardless of whatever its many creators and editors would have thought about the hymn as it currently stands, the carol beautifully endures as a reminder of the great gift that God the Father  has given us in his Son Jesus Christ.

Let’s spend some time today singing, speaking and meditating on its timeless words…

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Lion of Judah – December 3

lion-of-judah

“Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

In all honesty, Lion of Judah is one of my favorite names of Jesus. This name draws me back to C. S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia...every time. These books and movies have fixed the picture of Jesus as the powerful lion, Aslan, in my heart and mind. In Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy asks Mr. Beaver innocently if Aslan is safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

My heart shatters every time I read or watch this part.

No… Jesus is not safe…but He’s good…

Did you hear me?

He’s so good!

We confuse His meekness and humility with weakness, but my Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is not weak. He is not a pushover nor is He timid. He is fierce like a lion, and He stands with power. We see flashes of this when He turned over the tables of the merchants and collectors in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).

The name “Lion of Judah” also speaks of His perfect faithfulness to keep His promises, and one day…

When the Lion of Judah returns as He has promised He will, the kingdom of darkness will tremble before Him as He pronounces justice…complete, perfect justice! This thought screams in my heart and my mind on days when I see His followers being beaten down, tossed about, and slain by the enemy…on days when it seems the enemy is scattering and dividing His believers and the Church…when fear and discouragement seem to dominate.

Is He safe? No…but He’s good…I tell you, and He is faithful.

Jesus, mighty Lion of Judah, Your strength brings comfort…Your faithfulness whispers reminders of hope. Your enemies are powerless before you. Remind me…Teach my weak and fearful heart once more how majestic are You are. May my response always be that of greatest humility, adoration, and worship. Amen.

Light of the World

light-of-the-world

“ Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” John 8:12 NIV

Christmas is the season of light and lights, and symbolically, Christmas lights are their most spectacular at night. During the holiday season, we flock to elaborate outdoor light displays at night to wander in wonder as their sparkle and brilliance pierce the night.

It is at Christmas we see light for what it truly does. It dispels the gloom of darkness.

This is Jesus. This is who He is. This is what He does.

He shatters the darkness of our world and our lives. He destroys the hold of sin, and He breaks the chains of hopelessness.  Jesus’ radiance reveals God in all of His glory and magnificence. Knowing Jesus is to know and see what God is like.

Just as Jesus is the light of our world, we, as Jesus people, are called to be light to others. He sends us into the world to illuminate our surroundings with His love and life. We carry His light within us, and those who see it cannot help but be attracted to the Light Himself.

Precious Jesus, Light of the World, shatter our darkness and our “everydayness” with your dazzling presence. May we reflect your light today. Remind us that we are called to be light. May our “light shine before others, so that they may see Your good works, Lord,  and give glory to You who is in heaven.” I pray that others see You in us. Amen.

December 1 – Immanuel

 

 

immanuel

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, (which means “God with us”).

The reality of Immanuel shatters my complacent, worldly heart when I stop and think about what God did. He Himself set aside His brilliance, took on human form, and became one of us. He walked among us, laughed, ate, slept, and felt exhaustion, anger, and joy. He…the Creator of the World became one of the created because He longs to be with us. This omnipotent, omnipresent, sovereign God was willing to do whatever it takes, even setting aside His glory, humbling Himself to the point of death…on a cross…just to be with us…forever. This knowledge completely wrecks me in the most beautiful and intimate way.

This is why my heart runs to Him first thing every morning in worship. He longs for me and waits for me. God with us…God with me…God with you.

Take a few minutes today to sit in quiet with the One who longs for you and waits for you.

Immanuel, You completely amaze me. I am humbled to the point of tears by Your lavish love for me. The understanding that You would willingly give up the splendor of Heaven to come to this dirty, sin-stained earth, to live with and die for messy, ungrateful people like me just to provide a way for us to spend eternity with you…this understanding binds my heart to You. Forgive me for being so caught up and blinded by the busyness of this world and the selfish desires of my heart that I lose sight of Your great love. Help me to gain a greater sense of awe and wonder of who you truly are. Amen.

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